|Photograph © Dickie Arbiter|
My first impression of Dickie Arbiter
was that he had a good sense of humour, as
he immediately referred to his brightly coloured and eye dazzling
hand-made silk tie - this was apparently one of a large collection of
flamboyant ties for which he is well known.
Dickie retired in the year 2000, after nearly 50 years as a journalist, royal
commentator and as press secretary to HM The Queen. He has a vast
knowledge of the Royal Family and now gives talks about his
experience of working for the family. After giving us a brief history
of the monarchy, he told us how much he respects Her Majesty for her
continuing hard work and her devotion to her duties.
The Queen is now of an age when most members of the public would have long
since retired, yet she still attends many events and rarely shows
signs of fatigue. Dickie told us that she is a very down to earth person who loves her corgies, being
in the countryside, driving her land-rover and riding her horse
whenever time permits. When she stays at Balmoral, she and the family get together and have informal barbecue lunches in
a log cabin. There was one occasion when Dickie was invited - after
the meal, he was about to wash the dirty dishes; he then sensed somebody was behind him and thinking that it
was one of the family, said “You wash and I will dry.” He was
embarrassed when the Queen replied, “No, you wash and I will dry.”
the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh were really upset when the Royal
Yacht Britannia was decommissioned: it showed on The Queen's face, as
tears welled up in her eyes. They had spent so many happy and private
times with their family when they were on board with no prying
cameras or journalists spoiling their special occasions. Britannia
sailed worldwide and was not only used by the Royal Family, but also
by business people and ambassadors with many important and valuable
contracts being signed on board.
Disaster struck the Family in 1992, when three of the Queen's children got divorced within a short time of each other and there was much scandal reported in the press. Then this was followed by the fire at Windsor Castle, causing much damage to valuable assets and the building. The Queen kept her feelings hidden and rose above all of these problems but could not avoid referring to the annus horribilis
in a speech at the London Guildhall marking the 40th Anniversary of her accession to the throne. She later had to cope with the death of Princess Diana and the resulting frenzy of media coverage.
Queen is patron of numerous charities but she is now reducing the
number with help from the younger members of her family. She has
shaken hands with numerous people over the years, smiling most of the
time and often standing outside in all weathers. Dickie said that she
is driven by duty and will not step aside, as she made her vow to the
country as a young woman and declared her whole life would be
devoted to her people.
ended by telling us how much he had enjoyed working with the Royal
Family and sharing his numerous royal tales, without stepping out of